Abando credits Letran, UST after successful rookie year in Korea

Rom Anzures, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2023 10:20 PM

Rhenz Abando receives his trophy as the Collegiate Press Corps Basketball Player of the Year for 2021-22. CPC/Handout.
Rhenz Abando receives his trophy as the Collegiate Press Corps Basketball Player of the Year for 2021-22. CPC/Handout.

MANILA -- Rhenz Abando showed appreciation to the two institutions where he made his mark en route to his successful rookie season in the Korean Basketball League - sister schools University of Sto. Tomas and Colegio de San Juan de Letran

“Sobrang laking bagay, kasi kung hindi ako nag-college dito, kung hindi ako nakapag aral, lalong lalo na sa UST, hindi ako makikilala, and sa Letran, kung hindi nag-champion, hindi siguro ako mabibigyan ng opportunity para makapag laro overseas, ‘di nila ako makikilala. Sobrang laking bagay, sobrang laking part ng college career ko kung anong meron ako ngayon,” he said at the Collegiate Press Corps Awards Night, Monday in Quezon City. 

Abando played one season in each of the Dominican schools and brought both teams to the Finals of their respective leagues.

He helped the Growling Tigers reach the championship stage of UAAP Season 82 as the fourth seed, defeating the FEU Tamaraws and the UP Fighting Maroons in the stepladder semifinals before bowing down to the eventual champions Ateneo Blue Eagles.

After his transfer in 2020, it was with the Knights that he first realized his dreams of winning a title. He led the Intramuros-based squad to an undefeated season with a sweep of the eliminations until the Finals. Alongside this was being awarded the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player of NCAA Season 97.

He continued his success over his professional stint in the KBL with Anyang KGC, winning the KBL Title, Slam Dunk Contest, and the 3-on-3 All-Star Game. 

He added that it is now among his favorite memories for Anyang’s title is also historical in the league. 

“Yung Finals series, sobrang hirap pero sobrang memorable nun kasi sabi parang decades nang nakalipas, yun lang ulit yung umabot ng Game 7,” Abando said.

He then bared why he thinks Filipino imports are in demand in Korea. 

“Magaling and siguro mas skilled lang. pero nakakadagdag din sa market nung sa Korea kasi grabe nga yung Filipino fans dito. Talagang grabe sila sumuporta, Magagaling rin mga Korean, pero di natin masasabi talaga kung bakit tayo nakuha, [siguro] talagang para satin lang,” Abando explained.

But even after his accolades, which resulted in him winning the Collegiate Press Corps’ Basketball Player of the Year for 2021-2022, Abando maintained his humility and shared how he wants to improve on his consistency. 

“Ang goal ko ngayon as an individual, gusto ko lang maging consistent kasi last na naglaro ako, hindi ako consistent na player. Nung semis namin [against Goyang Orions], alam na ng coach namin na mag-underperform ako nun kaya na off-the-bench ako. Ni-ready ko na yung mind ko sa SK sa Finals kasi alam kong kaya ko mag-perform nun eh so inisip ko, hindi na yun finals. Inisip ko normal game na yun.”

Abando went on to contribute 10.1 points, grabbed 5.4 boards, and 1.8 rejections in the Finals, including a personal series best of 22 points and five rebounds in Game 4.

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